How to stretch shoes

Having invested in a pair of expensive Jimmy Choo shoes I thought would take me everywhere, I was dismayed to discover, after wearing them out a few times, that they were painfully tight. I went on a quest to stretch them and discovered that much of the accepted wisdom about how to stretch tight shoes DID NOT work. Only ONE technique (below) actually worked, and that came out of left field. The fails, some of which you’ve probably tried yourself, included:

-Buying wooden shoe stretchers, applying “stretching liquid” to the shoes and letting them sit with the stretchers inside for over a week.

-Taking them to my cobbler and having him stretch them.

-Taking them back to the where store I bought them and having their pros stretch them (for free).

-Wearing thick socks and walking around the apartment all day

-Putting ‘stretching solution’ on the shoes and wearing the shoes with thick socks all day

The prospect of having wasted my money on shoes I couldn’t wear was disheartening. I contemplated selling the shoes on Ebay, but held onto them thinking “There MUST be a fix.” Finally, a random google search yielded a solution from Ramshackle Glam, who had learned it from a fashion stylist (they seem to know everything about apparel that our mother’s never taught us). This method will stretch leather shoes a good half-size, both men’s and women’s:

1. Put on several pairs of socks. I tried a really thick pair, then added a second for good measure.

2. Stuff your feet into your shoes.

3. Blast your shoes with hot air from a hair dryer (an amazingly useful tool) for about two minutes while flexing your toes and feet to stretch the tight areas.

4. Keep the socks and shoes on until the leather cools. Test out the shoes without socks, and repeat if necessary until they’re comfortable.

The shoes are now wearable, and I am reminded of the lesson I learn daily: always question the experts and try stuff out for/on yourself. (And always keep a hair dryer on hand.)

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Note: I’ve since learned an additional trick from a friend (who learned it from a fashion stylist): wet the inside of the shoe with rubbing alcohol.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

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